Safety First!

One of the most common arguments against buying the C-17 Globemaster III for the CF was that it was often cheaper to lease Russian-built airlift capacity from charter companies.

Now, doing the yeoman work the opponents would not do, the Belleville Intelligencer has uncovered some truly astounding tales of airborne stupidity by the chartered airlifters:

cockpit_kid…as Maj. L. Rutten wrote in a June 2000 e-mail, the charter’s non-Canadian crew “barbecued their in-flight meals on an hibachi in the cargo compartment.”

…In 1996, a chartered AN-124-100 landing was too long and, as Canada’s Transportation Safety Board found, its tires were worn. The plane slid off the runway and sank into the ground.

…Messages written over the years by Canadian Forces staff tell of flights in which the foreign crews tied together containers of ammunition with those containing fuel oil; did not provide seatbelts for passengers; consumed alcohol in flight; and refused to de-ice their planes.

— Luke Hendry, “Reining in the ‘cowboys of the sky’“. Belleville Intelligencer, May 1st, 2008.

Think all of this stuff belongs to the ancient past, and these charter firms are now rigorously abiding by Canadian air safety regulations?  Think again.  One of them had their foreign air operator certificate revoked by Transport Canada after an aborted landing last May took out a 50-metre section of airfield fencing at CFB Trenton.

The whole article is well worth the read.

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